Friday night we rolled up to our campsite, a level spot of gravel in the middle of trees so tall they made you feel like you had just crept into the pages of a book, and we saw our friends waiting for us with their three kids. I love how we all call each other Uncle and Aunt even though we’re not related. It was like a family reunion.
Kurt helped me set up my tent in a light mist as Becky and Erica cooked the chicken and corn we were going to have for dinner. The tent was finished just in time before the heavier drops started to fall. A few of us grumbled about the rain, but then decided we’d rather it be cool than hot as long as the tent stayed dry, which it mostly did. None of the older kids seemed to mind the rain and took to exploring with umbrella’s in hand, carrying them more like fashion accessories than tools to keep them dry.
The corn cobs cooking next to the fire tasted almost as sweet as the company we enjoyed. We had each travelled halfway. It’s an annual trip well worth the drive to be able to visit with such good friends. They’re the kind of friends you can talk to about anything or nothing at all. We mostly talked about nothing at all, but sometimes at night around the glowing red logs our conversations turned more serious. No matter what we talked about, our conversation had that comfortable feeling you only get when it’s been months since you spoke and yet you pick up right where you left off as if no time had passed at all.
The next day’s events sprawled out over many different activities, some as simple as kicking the soccer ball around on the paved cul-de-sac near our tents, or swinging each other in the hammock. Whatever we did was fun! It’s what I love about camping. Life is so simple and yet so enjoyable. Walking together through the woods, pushing the kids on the swing set, and watching the log-rolling competition at the local festival made the day seem short and long at the same time. Long because we did so many different things, but short because we found ourselves making s’mores on our last night sooner than we would’ve liked.
The next morning we packed up and started the drive home. I felt happy knowing we had already made plans to get together again in a few months and drove away surprisingly refreshed for having slept on a thin foam mat for two nights. My feeling of contentment grew as I observed the way my wife sat in the passenger seat with her shoes off and a pillow in her lap and I stole glances at my children’s faces through the rearview mirror. Four hours later we arrived back at our house, but we had been at home all weekend, simply because we had been together.